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The First in the Deck Series

Our most recent DIY experience through the process.

Out With The Old, In With The New

Gotta love a new beginning, right?

Peppermint Shortage

Just a funny afternoon.

Coffeyville, KS

I loved this experience so much that I had to write about it. Then, through e-mails it spread to Coffeyville itself.

Photo Restoration

I had a lot of fun with this "old school" photo. It turned out too cool to not blog about it.

Kitchen Remodel (part one)

This is the first of a nine-part series documenting the remodel of our 50-year-old kitchen in our 100-year-old home!

Funny Craigslist Posts

One of the things that I get a kick out of are funny Craigslist ads.  Sometimes the ad takes on a whole new meaning due to a misspelled word.  Sometimes just what is being sold is funny.  Rarely a day goes by when I don't see something on Craigslist that makes me giggle.  So, I've decided to start taking screenshots and sharing them on here once a week or so.  Here are a few that I saw today.

I'm sensing we have an entrepreneur on our hands in the up-and-coming fainting goat industry.
Bearner bermp bermp bermp bermp... bermp... bermp... bermp
I thought for sure this guy was just using voice-to-text or something, but twice?  Don't think so.

Cons of Craigslist

I just wrote about how I love Craigslist. But, maybe what I failed to mention was that there are certainly some cons involved with it. Of course, it's no fault of the website.  But, the site can only be as good as the users allow it be.

I just saw this ad for a tablet.  It's a perfect example of why it's smart to ask yourself many questions about why an item might be for sale. This one has sketchy written all over it. Let me tell you why.

First, it states in the description that it's new in the box and that it's unopened.  Yet, the photo depicts a box that has clearly been written on stating that it was checked and it works. How'd they do that without opening the box?

Second, this guy states that he just bought it a couple weeks ago for twenty dollars more than what he's selling it for. You mean to tell me that he bought an electronic but didn't open it? And two weeks later he's selling it at a loss? Why did he buy it if he didn't intend on using it?  Certainly not to resell it, obviously.
Third, I can almost guarantee that he won't let you open the box to try it first. He'll use the excuse that if you open it, then it won't be a "new in unopened box" product.

This is an obvious piece of junk that no one wants for one reason or another. There are lots of ads like this one. A good general rule of thumb is if it seems at all fishy, it probably is.  Craigslist is a great tool and an awesome resource, but like all great tools, it can be used by the wrong person for the wrong purpose.

Craigslist

I got my introduction into classified ads in 1993.  At 14 years old, I started thinking about what sort of vehicle I might want when I got my driver's license.  At the time, a popular running medium for classified ads was the PennyPower.  It was thrown in most people's driveways every Tuesday and was available at several restaurants throughout town.  There was seemingly no organization about it at all.  Ads were randomly listed everywhere, mostly in 1" x 2" spaces.  It was a real thrill to actually find something that you were looking for.  It wasn't too far off from zig-zagging through the aisles of a flea market.

Since being turned on to Craigslist years ago, I doubt a month has passed where I have not bought, sold, picked up for free, or given away something using it.  It's an amazing resource that's free to use, easy to use, and free of annoyances like ads and unnecessary html junk.  I'm definitely a Craigslister.

Just this last weekend, I picked up a Samsung widescreen 1080i HD TV with the original remote for free.  The ad stated that it just quit working one day.  And, they were right.  When pressing the power button, nothing happened.  Also, it wouldn't respond to the remote.  I laid it screen-down and took off the back.  First stop: power supply.  It all seemed to be in good shape, that is, except for the blown fuse.  A quick trip up to Radio Shack and $3 later, I was playing around with all the settings seeing what all it could do.  Ah yeah.

I've received several things for free from Craigslist users over the years.  But, it's not just the free items that have been my greatest finds.  I'm also thrilled to find a great bargain at a price, as well.  Since buying our house in February of 2007, I've purchased lots of building materials on Craigslist.  I paid $80 for 500 square feet of hardwood flooring, $20 for 5 brand new doors that I was about to pay $19 each + tax for anyway, and I've purchased several power tools for super cheap.  Take today for example.  Later today, I'll be picking up 15 sheets of 3/4" plywood for $150.  I'm laying a subfloor down on my second story in the next couple of months and would need almost exactly this much plywood.  Only, if I needed to buy this at Lowe's or Home Depot, I'd be paying $36.47+tax per sheet as seen in the photo below.  That saves me about $438.  I'm also picking up a couple much-needed truck tires for $30, as well.  I've got some belts showing.  Eek!

I don't know who Craig is.  But, I'm thankful that he gave me the ability to sell something locally without having to split the proceeds with anyone (including greedy Uncle Sam).  I'm grateful that he gave me the ability to scour a 60-mile radius from my home to look for used items to buy in lieu of being forced to buy new every time I need something.  I like that I have been able to add value to my home at times with minimal investment.  And, I like that I have the ability to get rid of something that I no longer want without having to throw it away or haul it to a donation center.  Most importantly, I'm thankful that God sets up these little encounters using Craigslist where I can provide for my family in big ways on a budget.

Social Justice

I saw this graphic yesterday on facebook and it just sort of got me thinking.  I like the graphic for its cuteness, I suppose. I mean, who doesn't like the big kid helping out the toddler so that he can enjoy the game, too?  I also like that it points out that there is a difference between equality and justice.

What I don't like about the graphic is its over-simplicity.  To be fair, this is true of most graphics, if not all of them.  Obviously, the point of these sorts of memes is not to address every nuance surrounding the issue, but rather to make a pointed argument sparing all the detailed implications that the argument makes.

I take no issue with the premise being displayed here.  Being a father of three with children these sizes, I would even encourage my eldest child to willingly give up the box he's standing on for the benefit of the youngest who can't participate without it.  However, while this example works quite well for three children taking in a free baseball game, it doesn't translate to many other real world examples in which people are calling for "equality" and "justice".

Take financial benefits offered by social programs, for example.  These programs are funded by taxes.  Taxes are monies taken by our government from people earning an income, purchasing a product, paying for a service, or for simply owning personal property.  So, apply this scenario to our graphic above.  In place of age, let the size of the individual in the graphic represent his/her contribution towards the general fund of collected taxes.  The proverbial boxes then represent the tax-funded benefits received from the general fund.  Naturally, the largest individual receives nothing from the general fund but contributes the most.  The smallest contributes the least and receives the most.

In the graphic, everything seems fine.  Everyone seems to be equally enjoying themselves.  An equalization has been reached.  So what's the problem?  Well, there are many, in fact, when applying it to the scenario of taxpayer-funded social programs.  Note that the box wasn't willfully given by the largest to the smallest, the box was taken (through taxes) from the largest and distributed to the smallest.  This may have a tendency to create the following:
  1. The largest will: 
    1. Despise the taking of this earned property.
    2. Tend to feel he/she has contributed enough and will cease to give any willful contributions to any other charities.
    3. Feel contempt for the smallest for being a "burden".
    4. Possibly lack motivation to work harder fearing that more success will lead to even more forced removal of earnings.
  2. The smallest will:
    1. Eventually feel entitled to the distributions given him/her.
    2. Tend to feel he/she needs help from others and therefore doesn't have enough to contribute to any other charities.
    3. Feel contempt for the largest for an assumed and projected superiority complex.
    4. Possibly lack motivation to work harder fearing that more success will lead to the removal of  the benefits currently being received.
  3. The government will:
    1. Require much overhead to oversee both the taking and the distribution of these funds.
    2. Be pressured to crack down on those taking advantage of the system which will require more overhead auditing the entire process.
    3. Be limited in its ability to stop individuals from taking advantage of the system due to over-zealous liberal organizations who sue, lobby, and slander.
Don't get me wrong.  I'm not against social programs.  And, I'm certainly not trying to say that the behavior listed above is true of all people.  I'm all for people having help available when they need it.  But, there has to be some safeguards in place with every charitable program.  Every non-for-profit charity knows this.  The only problem is that government-run programs are not at all structured like non-for-profit charitable programs.  And, they make no effort to learn from their successes.  The truth is that government-run charities are presently and historically the least effective and least efficient means to positively impact society and reduce the need.  My implication here goes beyond this fact, though, and delves into the lasting psychological and sociological impact that forced charity (taxes) has in the long term.

I realize that this is a sensitive subject.  It is particularly difficult, as a Christian, to approach a discussion about it.  After all, aren't we supposed to want to help people?  Of course, we are.  And we do.  Religious organizations and members of such give the most to charities.  Presently as well as historically, that has always been the case.

I can't sum up this rant because I'm surrounded by rabbit trails that are beckoning me but, in the interest of time, to close, I'll say that there are many virtues that we all understand to be intrinsically good.  Equality and justice are both viewed in this regard.  However, like our parents told us, the world is not fair.  And, they were spot on.  We are all given different lives with varying degrees of prosperity or lack thereof.  While it may be easy for some to claim that it is not equal or just that some are less fortunate, let me leave you with this question: Up to what percentage of earned income taken from a working individual and distributed to non-working individuals constitutes justice and at what percentage is it no longer just?

Living Under a Rock

Do I live under a rock?

What sparked this question to myself was that recently I rented a movie from Redbox.  I was going after a very specific movie so there was no perusing the catalog.  I was just going in for the kill. It had been quite a while since I had rented a movie.  Maybe a year?  After paying for my rental, I had the receipt sent to my email address from the machine.  Along with the email containing the receipt, they also sent me an email welcoming me to Redbox since I had never used that email address before with them.  It included  a code to use next time for a free rental.  This prompted me to look through their catalog on my phone to find a potential "date night" movie that my wife and I could watch together.

What I found was a huge list of movies that I had never heard of, didn't recognize, and was completely unfamiliar with.  That's a relatively new development for me.  Does anyone else have this issue?  I was stumped and had no clue as to where to even start to choose a movie.

Back in the day, this would have never happened to me.  I would have seen previews from other movies that I had rented or watched in the theater.  I would have seen commercials on broadcast television about upcoming movies.  I would have heard about movies from co-workers and friends.  So, what's different now?

We have a Roku box, a Netflix subscription, small children, and a moral compass.  The combination of these apparently equals a complete ignorance of current entertainment choices.

We don't watch broadcast television for a few reasons.
  1. There isn't really anything appropriate for our small children to see that also interests Jodi and me.
  2. The shows the children like can be seen on Netflix on demand.
  3. Netflix has multiple seasons of most TV series shows that keep me and Jodi entertained for months due to our limited window to watch.
Since Netflix keeps us entertained, we don't ever rent movies any more nor do we ever consider watching one in theaters.  So, we have essentially cut out every available outlet where we would normally be subject to receiving exposure to movie trailers or advertising.

To be quite honest, the only news I get is when I search for news on Google which I do a couple times a week just to keep in touch with what is happening politically.

I find it interesting that with these new media tools developed by technology and entertainment innovations, I have actually become less solicited, less aware, and less informed.  Hmm.

Photo credit: Julie Dawn Fox @ juliedawnfox.com

City vs. Country

My wife and I have talked about many potential plans over the years.  We've tossed around all kinds of grand ideas, and not to brag, but we're full of them.

The problem with being full of big ideas, though, is that inevitably you have to know when to trash certain ideas to pursue the ones that you really feel passionate about.  That is, if you want to feel any sense of actual direction.

A couple of opposing ideas that we have entertained are:
  1. Buying an urban building (preferably brick with tons o' character) that we could both live in while also having a shop where we could sell things.  We really want space to do all of our craftinesses (Yes. That is a word. According to me.).
  2. Building a beautiful dream home on a little plot of land with room for all of our wished for things like a wood shop, greenhouse, auto shop, and dedicated craft room, etc.
The thing is, I wouldn't go considering myself a city boy.  I know my way around horses well enough, grew up running around in fields and woods collecting tick bites, am a hard working do-it-myself-er, and come from a long line of mumbling hunters and avid fishermen.  On the other hand, I can't really consider myself a country boy either.  I have spent the majority of my life within city limits, working indoors, and enjoying predominantly city things like coffee shops, sushi, art, etc.

Jodi's story isn't much different, though I would say that she had considerable more time in the country than myself.  Still, one wouldn't look at her and think that she is a country girl in any sense of the title.  Even people that know her pretty well are surprised to find out that she grew up as rural as she did.

Recently, we had a discussion.  For the first time we talked about the two very different desires that we both have had over the years.  And, after weighing our personal goals, considering the bulk of our passions, and examining our social wants and needs, we came to the conclusion that buying an urban building best fits our lifestyle.  Maybe we would build a home in the country at some point in the future.  Who knows?  But, for now, our next step is focusing our efforts towards this goal.  It feels great to be sure of what is next so that we can begin to move in that direction.

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